A heat pump is an excellent option for home comfort management in the Mobile area. Because winters are mild, a heat pump can provide safe and effective heating during the winter and cooling during the summer. As you begin to look at new systems, read through the following five features in order to help you assess your needs and options.
1. Efficiency Ratings
A heat pump is rated for both heating and cooling efficiency. You will find that high-performance units take today’s efficiency levels to new heights. Cooling efficiency is identified as SEER, the seasonal energy efficiency ratio. In 2006, this was raised from 10 to 13 as a minimum requirement in newly manufactured equipment. Effective in January 2015, the minimum SEER in new systems for areas other than the northern region of the country was raised to 14. Similarly, the minimum HSPF, heating seasonal performance factor, has increased from 7.7 to 8.2. Budget-friendly units are available at the lower end of this rating spectrum. However, high-performance pump systems offer more than 20 SEER and 13 HSPF. As you make a decision about your next system, you will want to balance your desire for energy efficiency with your budget for new equipment.
2. Compatibility for Hybrid Heating
Natural gas is used for heating nearly one-third of Alabama homes. Although average lows are in the 40s during the winter, record lows have dropped to sub-zero levels. On these rare occasions, an air-source pump system may struggle to efficiently heat. Combing the pump system with a compatible furnace can be ideal for ensuring the most efficient heating source based on the outside conditions. If you have a furnace, you may want to consider heat pump installation as part of a hybrid heating configuration.
3. Indoor Air Quality
Living near the Gulf Coast, you may struggle with humidity levels inside your home. Even during the winter months, outside humidity levels exceed 60 percent. Recommended indoor humidity is between 30 and 50 percent, but a moist climate makes it difficult to mitigate high levels. Humid air will make you feel warmer and more uncomfortable. You’ll also find that a humid home can create problems with mold and mildew. Health and your quality of life can be affected by poor indoor air quality because of excessive moisture.
Your cooling system provides dehumidification activity, important for drawing moisture from your indoor air supply. Unfortunately, it is impractical to operate your cooling equipment when temperatures are mild. As you research new pump systems, you will want to investigate those options that include enhanced dehumidification solutions. Systems like the Infinity 20 from Carrier provide optimum dehumidification, using lower speeds to minimize cooling activity while maximizing the removal of moisture from the indoor environment. This allows you to gain greater control over your home’s air quality.
4. Adaptive Technology
Older systems tend to operate at set output levels, making it difficult to achieve the ideal comfort level in a home. Temperature levels are registered at the thermostat, and hot or cold air is distributed until this level is reached. In many cases, portions of a home will experience major temperature changes between system cycling. However, pump systems with adaptive technology can adjust based on indoor conditions, adjusting fan and compressor speeds to ensure that output is only as much as needed. The Infinity 20 system, for example, can range from 40 to 100 percent, providing only as much heating or cooling as needed. Not only does this ensure optimum comfort, but it also allows for more efficient use of energy. Further, you may experience fewer heat pump repairs because of less intense equipment activity.
5. Life Expectancy of a System
As you think about a new heat pump installation, you may want to compare the remaining life of your existing equipment to the potential benefits of a new unit. You can expect a new unit to last for nearly 15 years, especially if the unit has been carefully maintained. If you are experiencing more frequent heat pump repair needs in spite of good maintenance, a new unit may save you from expensive future repairs.
If you considering a heat pump or want to find out how a heat pump would work in your home, call Air-Specialty.
Indoor air quality and ductwork cleaning go hand in hand. In a southern climate, homeowners in Mobile need to pay special attention to the maintenance of their HVAC system due to the humidity and year round, animal-friendly environment. Below is a quick set of facts on how ducts get dirty, plus a short list of tips for cleaner, healthier indoor air.
Dirty Ductwork 101
Ductwork carries air from the handler to the vents in your home. With windows and doors closed, air is re-circulated through the ducts, carrying normal levels of in-home dust and debris. Inevitably, ducts will begin to see dirt build up, especially in homes with pets, renovation projects, dusty roads, or lots of opening and closing of doors and windows.
Once debris lines the ducts, airflow will begin to slow down and your HVAC system will have to work harder. Based on the temperature that you set, the HVAC is designed to push air through a smaller opening in order to maintain the correct temperature.
There are simple things homeowners can do to help keep the HVAC ductwork clean. Other maintenance projects will require a professional to service the system and ensure your HVAC is running at peak performance.
Dirty Ductwork Cleaning
Change the air filter regularly. Inspect it once a month and change it when you can no longer see through it. If the filter gets clogged with dust and dirt, some of that material will blow past the filter and end up in the ductwork.
Clean the house regularly. See all the hair, dust and debris in your vacuum after a good cleaning? That could have ended up in the ductwork.
Regularly groom long-haired pets outside.
Schedule a professional duct inspection every three or four years, and more often if you have any of the aforementioned risk factors.
Schedule an annual maintenance on the HVAC system. A clean and tuned-up heating or cooling system won’t allow as much dirt and debris into the ducts.
Check your evaporator coil to make sure the coil and its condensate pan and drain are clear of mold and bacteria. Consider using UV lights to eradicate these harmful micro-organisms.
To schedule a comprehensive ductwork cleaning, please contact us today at Air Specialty. We offer HVAC maintenance and system protection products and services for your home. For more than 20 years, Air Specialty has been proudly servicing the Mobile and Saraland communities.
Even with the recent down tic in gas prices, Mobile residents are always looking for ways to save money, reduce energy use, and lighten up their carbon footprint. To do this, it takes understanding of two simple principles: energy conservation and energy efficiency. A quick read below, and you will be shocked at how easy it is stop wasting money on energy.
The Difference Between Conservation and Efficiency
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a big difference between conserving energy and using it efficiently.
Energy conservation is the act of reducing the amount of energy you use by changing certain behaviors, such as riding your bike to work a few times a week instead of driving. Energy efficiency is the act of ensuring that the energy you consume is used efficiently, such as properly maintaining your car or purchasing a hybrid vehicle.
Practicing energy conservation and increasing energy efficiency results in considerable savings while helping to preserve natural resources. Start by addressing the three major energy systems in your home: HVAC, water heating and lighting.
The HVAC System
Heating and cooling your home account for about half of your annual utility bill, and energy conservationis essential for lowering these costs.
Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter.
Set back the thermostat by 15 degrees for at least eight hours every day to reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent. A programmable thermostat can help you manage thermostat settings automatically, based on your schedule.
Set back the usual thermostat setting by three degrees and compensate by wearing warmer clothes in the winter or using fans to help you feel cooler in the summer.
An energy efficient HVAC system will ensure that the cool or warm air you consume isn’t wasted.
Seal air leaks in your home. The loss of cool or warm air due to leaks makes the HVAC system work harder to maintain the right temperature.
Inspect the HVAC system’s air filter each month and replace a dirty filter right away to ensure proper airflow and prevent dust from building up inside the system.
Seal the ductwork. Leaky ducts in the typical home account for a 20 to 40 percent loss of the air that flows through.
Insulate ductwork in unconditioned places like the attic, crawl space or garage to keep the air inside at the optimum temperature as it moves through and to help prevent mold that may result from condensation.
Daily use of hot water accounts for about 20 percent of your annual utility bill. Conservative use of hot water begins with the following:
Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes and use the shortest cycle listed for the appliance.
Wash clothes in cold water, and save hot water washes for bedding and towels.
Annual maintenance tasks increases your hot water heater’s energy efficiency. Below are three practical DIY chores to do once a year:
Lower the thermostat to 120 degrees, which is sufficient for most household needs.
Insulate the exposed cold and hot water pipes, and install an insulating jacket on the tank.
Flush the tank every two years to remove sediment, which acts as insulation between the heating element and the water.
Lighting accounts for about 10 percent of your annual utilities. The high price of electricity and the large amount of natural resources required to generate it make energy conservation particularly important when it comes to lighting.
Turn off lights when you’re not using them.
Put outdoor lights on a timer so they turn off as soon as the sun comes up.
Consider a lighting system that runs on automatic settings or allows you to turn lights on and off from a remote location using a WiFi-enabled device.
Boost your use of energy efficient lights and reduce your habit of leaving lights on during the day.
Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which use a whopping 75 percent less electricity and last six times longer.
Install dimmer switches to reduce the amount of energy used per bulb.
Invest in LED lights for the holidays, which use a small fraction of the energy of standard string lights and burn cooler.
In Mobile, call us at Air Specialty for more expert tips on practicing energy conservation and improving energy efficiency in your home.